ANOTHER easy win for England? We asked Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) to investigate.
England v Slovenia | Saturday 17:00 | ITV1
The new Euro 2016 qualifying conditions have been met with mixed reviews. For some nations, it’s provided realistic hope of qualifying for a rare major tournament, while for others it’s made 14 months of fixtures look very uncompetitive. England fit into the latter category.
After the horror show of their World Cup performance, interest in the national team remains low, but three wins out of three in qualifying deserves respect. After all, only Italy and Croatia can match that amongst the World Cup sides from the summer.
England are masters of qualifying for major tournaments. They haven’t lost a game in these fixtures since a 1-0 loss to Ukraine in 2009, and even then they’d already qualified. Overall, they’re unbeaten in 22 qualifying matches and only Italy can trump that in Europe.
Another excellent facet of England’s qualifying prowess is their ability to maintain a tight defence. Roy Hodgson’s side conceded just four goals during qualifiers for Brazil. No other side in a 10-match group could better that. Can I also throw in the fact that 10 of England’s last 11 qualifying wins have been whilst keeping a clean sheet?
Slovenia have qualified for three major tournaments in the 21st century with South Africa 2010 their last big-stage appearance. During the last two qualifying campaigns they’ve finished two points off a play-off place, so deserve respect here. The race for second place in this group looks up for grabs after Switzerland’s stumbling start, and Slovenia have big claims on that automatic spot after beating the Swiss last month in Maribor.
This won’t be an easy game for England and I expect the Under 2.5 Goals shout at 4/5 with Skybet to pay out. The Slovenian’s haven’t conceded more than two in their last 13 internationals. But instead I’ll back England to win to nil at the same price with Paddy Power.
England v Slovenia – England Win To Nil (4/5 Paddy Power)